Esty Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Support Families of Fallen Service Members
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) today joined with Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-2) to introduce the Support the Families of Fallen Heroes Act to honor service members who lose their lives serving in uniform and to provide assistance to their families. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced similar legislation in the Senate today and in the 114th Congress.
In 2014, Esty met with families who lost loved ones at VFW Post 201 in Waterbury. There, Esty spoke with Mr. Joe Nolan, a Vietnam veteran and former Marine who lost his son in Iraq in 2004. Mr. Nolan, who also initiated the Gold Star Family License Plate in Connecticut, suggested creating a postal stamp in honor of the families of the fallen. Esty has introduced legislation to do so during each of her three terms in Congress.
“The brave men and women of our military who knowingly risk their lives on our behalf deserve to know that their families will be supported and cared for,” Esty said. “After speaking with Joe Nolan in Waterbury and other families who have lost loved ones, I understood the need to do more to honor their sacrifice. The ‘Families of Fallen Heroes’ Semipostal stamp will pay tribute to those who gave their lives for our nation. But it does more than that: by providing proceeds to a program that provides direct assistance to the families of fallen service members, it will help these families get critical help when they need it most.”
“For years, I have been working to get the U.S. Post office to issue a postage stamp to honor the memory of my son, Joe, and all fallen heroes from all of America’s wars and their surviving families,” Mr. Nolan said. “The stamp would not only keep their memories alive, but it would also spread awareness to those who may not be familiar with the Gold Star symbol. Our country needs to know the cost of war. I was proud to join Congresswoman Esty in 2015 to announce the new Gold Star Fathers law. I appreciate Congresswoman Esty for her work on this important issue and for bringing this stamp one step closer to reality.”
The Families of Fallen Heroes Act would direct the U.S. Postal Service to issue a Families of Fallen Heroes Semipostal Stamp, the proceeds of which would go to the Families of the Fallen Support program, which is jointly administered by the United Service Organizations, Inc. (USO) and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). The Families of the Fallen support program supports families at Dover Air Base when they witness the return of their fallen loved ones and continue this support through peer-based support groups and camps for children to connect with others coping with a similar loss.
In the previous Congress, Esty worked with Mr. Nolan to introduce and pass the Gold Star Fathers Act, which extends formal hiring preference for federal jobs to fathers of disabled and deceased veterans. Previously, only qualifying mothers, known as “Gold Star Mothers,” were given preference. Former President Barack Obama signed that bill into law in October 2015.